Philippine Protests Over the Chinese/Philippine Scarborough Shoal Standoff (Source: New American Media)

Philippine Protests Over the Chinese/Philippine Scarborough Shoal Standoff (Source: New American Media)

China has pulled out their ”Yuzheng 310 ” ship and another maritime surveillance vessel, but one ship remains in the area around  Scarborough  Shoal. While Chinese diplomats are considering this a deescalation of hostilities, the Philippine side believes the Chinese are just be rotating ships, and that a full ceasing of the standoff can only be reached with full removal of Chinese vessels. Obviously, China does not agree, as fully vacating the area would be considered a sign of defeat. The Philippines is hoping to bring the U.S. and world community into the situation:

BEIJING — The Philippines plans to seek counsel from the United States military over its two-week standoff with Chinese ships operating in the Scarborough Shoal, a new step in the simmering dispute.

Chinese officials have repeatedly expressed their commitment to resolving tensions in the area through diplomatic channels. China recently removed two ships from the area to mitigate the conflict, stressing that it was deescalating the situation.

Philippine leaders said Monday that they would bring up the issue when they met with U.S. officials next week. The ruling Chinese Communist Party strikes a tougher note when U.S. involvement in the disputes is concerned: After the U.S. launched into two weeks of annual military drills with the Philippines last week, one commentary argued it was a clear provocation.

“Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force,” argued the recent commentary in the Legal Daily, a mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army.

The Pentagon maintains that the drills are not related to the territorial dispute.

The Scarborough Islands dispute began when China blocked a Filipino warship from arresting Chinese fishermen in the area, a group of islands and reefs about 140 miles from the Philippines shoreline. Manila requested to take the issue to international court last week. Beijing refused, maintaining that the area is an indisputable part of Chinese territory.

On Friday, Chinese hackers defaced the University of the Philippines’ official website in protest, according to the state-run China Daily. The hackers posted a map to the website with a caption reading, “We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours.” Huangyan Island is the shoal’s Chinese name.

The South China Sea has been at the center of long-running territorial disputes involving China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines. The sea is vital for the fishing industries of nearby countries. Some speculate that it could also contain vast oil and natural gas reserves, but surveys have yet to show any large-scale deposits.

Official Chinese maps use a U-shaped dotted line to demarcate most of the 1.4-million square-mile sea as China’s own. Within the last year, China has sent fishing boats, military patrols and even sightseeing tours to disputed areas of the sea, eliciting official protests from Vietnam and its neighbors.

According to a report released on Monday by an influential think tank, many territorial conflicts in the area are motivated by jockeying among Chinese agencies rather than high-level strategic maneuvering.

The report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said that at least 11 state-controlled ministries — and beneath them, five law enforcement agencies — share management of the South China Sea.

“The conflicting mandates and lack of coordination among Chinese government agencies have stoked tensions in the South China Sea, many of which use this issue to try to increase their power and budget,” said the report, called “Stirring Up the South China Sea.”

“Ultimately, the ability to manage relations in the South China Sea and resolve disputes will present a major test of China’s peaceful rise,” it said. (Source: The LA Times)

For more background on the situation, see our previous posts on the initial confrontation, the hopeful near resolution, and the re-escalation that have led to this point.

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch